Donald Trump had barely finished his call for a ban on Muslim travel to the U.S. when Clinton and Co. fired back. Naturally, because it’s Hillary Clinton, it came through a fundraising email pimping her new “Love trumps hate” bumper sticker over Huma Abedin’s signature. And in equally typical Hillary Clinton fashion, her message was almost off.
It started off promisingly enough:
Last night, when I heard Donald Trump’s hateful comments about banning Muslims like me from entering the United States, I was shocked, offended and angry. But after I saw the flood of responses from this team — and across the country — saying that Trump’s comments were absolutely unacceptable, I was overwhelmed with a different emotion:
That’s actually a pretty cool, positive response. Not only does it make the point that Trump was wrong, it changes the “hero” in the story. When Candidate A condemns Candidate B, A is trying to look like the hero sticking up for the little guy. Such self-aggrandizing rhetoric can ring hollow.
By referencing the public response, Abedin and Team Clinton share the spotlight with the person reading the email – and who doesn’t like getting a little shine, right?
It also marginalizes Trump, disconnecting his inflammatory rhetoric from the rank-and-file voters. For a candidate who referred to political opponents as her enemies, this is an important distinction. But the next paragraph blows up that concept:
Let’s show Donald Trump and his supporters that we won’t be torn apart by his hateful rhetoric.
It’s bad politics to blame Trump “supporters” for the ills of America, no matter which party you’re in. Its logical end is a misstep like Mitt Romney’s “47%” comments – essentially giving voice to the campaign’s plan to divide the electorate and work on getting their own supporters out to the polls. That may reflect a strategic reality, but it doesn’t mean a campaign has to say it publicly.